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Microsoft BPOS and Google Apps: Bringing the Cloud Down to Earth

| March 26, 2010 | Managed IT Services
| Analyst: Amy Larsen DeCarlo, Principal Analyst, Managed IT Services

Click here to download report (100 KB PDF)

Necessity is the mother of invention, or at the very least, the driver of much faster evolution. Consider the legions of businesses and government pressed by the recession to cut costs wherever they can that are now quickly jumping on the OpEx-based software-as-service (SaaS) bandwagon in a quest to free themselves from costly licensing fees and support expenses. These include many fairly conservative organizations that in more flush times might have chosen to stay the course a little longer with more traditional server- and desktop-based applications, but are now exploring their options with pay-per-use software services. But then again, increasingly the desktop itself is sounding a bit dated as more private and public sector entities push the boundaries of their organizations with the addition of more wireless and mobile devices.

This move to a more flexible, and less tethered, work environment only helps drive demand for an access and device-agnostic computing model. The end result is, as many in the industry have noted, the perfect storm to advance cloud services.

However, as attractive as the concept of a pay-as-you-go world of technology services may be without the hassle or the high cost of acquiring and maintaining hardware and software that in many cases are only in use sporadically, the reality is we are a long way from the point in time where virtualized services dominate the landscape. Companies have far too much invested in legacy infrastructure and there are still far too many concerns about security in multi-tenant environments and consistent performance to produce a massive migration to on-demand application services.

Yet, there is clearly some movement on the SaaS and the utility computing front as more businesses try – and buy – hosted messaging and other application services that are most often delivered from a multi-tenant environment. Front and center of this advance is the disruptive force Google with its Google Apps Premier Edition suite, and Microsoft with its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) is well-positioned to tap into the demand for simple, efficient and cost-effective application services.

The two companies are not alone in battling for market leadership in cloud collaboration. IBM’s cloud contender LotusLive is another solution that cannot be ignored. But even with some bold subscriber base claims, a growing channel partner network, and high profile wins such as Panasonic (150,000 seats!), IBM is perhaps less of a factor in moving the broader business market forward into cloud collaboration.

But before Google, Microsoft or any other provider can achieve widespread business adoption of cloud services, they need to address issues around security and privacy adequately. Until providers offer more transparency around delivery, organizations will be uncomfortable trusting them to handle their data.

This Advisory Report looks at what steps Microsoft and Google are taking to win customer confidence, and where they are still struggling.

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